Throughout the summer, National Scout Jon Ledyard, Assistant Director Joe Marino and Scouting Director Kyle Crabbs will be conducting summer assessments on 99 notable senior prospects. Of these 99 seniors, the 33 most prominent will be covered by all three analysts.
Of the remaining 66, each of the three analysts has “drafted” 22 of them to scout exclusively.
This serves as the foundation for our 2018 draft assessments.
Scout: Jon Ledyard
Name: Mason Rudolph
Date of Birth: 7/17/1995
College: Oklahoma State
High School: Northwestern (SC)
Games Played: 29
Games Started: 28
Production: 597-958 (62.3 percent), 8,714 yards, 9.1 yards/attempt, 55 touchdowns, 17 interceptions.
High School: Consensus 4-star recruit. State Champion as senior. Finalist for South Carolina’s “Mr. Football” award. MVP of the Shrine Bowl which is the Carolina’s all-star game. Two-time All-Region selection. All-Region basketball player as a junior. Chose Oklahoma State over LSU, Louisville, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
College: Marketing major. 22-6 record as starting quarterback and lead Oklahoma State to eight victories in which the trailed in the second half. Owns 11 school passing records. 2015 Offensive Team MVP. 2016 Offensive Team MVP, Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas Award Semifinalist. Only player in nation with over 4,000 passing yards and 34 passing attempts per game to throw less than 5 interceptions.
Strengths: Size/build of a pocket passer. Decent athlete who can escape and dent a defense when necessary. Quick setups and active feet in the pocket to adjust base quickly. Mostly clean mechanics with an over-the-top throwing motion. Quick release, although the ball may be coming out a tad early. Arm strength to stretch the field if he can improve the details. Good internal clock in the pocket and can sense edge pressure. Navigates the pocket well and will move through progressions comfortably. Doesn’t panic under pressure and will deliver throws looking down the barrel. Throws out-breaking routes with excellent anticipation. Will move to his checkdown option if options down the field aren’t there.
Weaknesses: Arm is decent, but not elite as has been billed. Deep ball is messy, struggles mightily with timing, placement and distance. Often underthrew nine routes and forced his receivers into tough contested catch situations. Worked primarily from clean pockets, yet still struggled with downfield accuracy and timing. Doesn’t throw with much anticipation on vertical patterns, will either wait for a window or wing it into coverage (YOLO ball). Accuracy and location issues plague him at almost all levels of the field. Forces receivers into tough adjustments and leaping grabs even in the short-intermediate game. Ball often sails on him, which may indicate a release point issue. Seems to struggle with properly varying touch and zip on the football, will often float passes he should drive, and occasionally zipped passes he could have taken something off, usually in the short game. Lower-body mechanics were mostly solid, but at times didn’t follow through with his lower half on throws, allowing the ball to dip and lose velocity (DeShone Kizer had this issue). Does not throw well from unnatural angles and needs a solid base beneath him. Interception numbers were good, but still makes some questionable decisions and fails to see lurking defenders in zone coverage at times. In four games I watched, threw at least four intercept-able balls that weren’t taken advantage of by defenders.
Summary: Mason Rudolph has been heralded as one of the next big-armed, pocket passing quarterbacks to enter the NFL draft with first round potential, but what I saw on tape was a prospect who needs a lot of work to enter that realm of consideration. The most important trait for a quarterback is accuracy, and Rudolph consistently struggles with ball location and placement to all levels of the field. He constantly underthrew vertical patterns and forced his receivers into tough, contested catch situations, even when they had a step on a defender down the field. Rudolph struggled to recognize a corner’s leverage and lead his receiver to the opposite shoulder, particularly on nine routes down the sideline.
The same placement and accuracy issues showed up repeatedly in the short-intermediate passing game, where Rudolph often missed high and wide to his receivers. His mechanical approach is mostly clean, but I think an issue with his release point being too early is causing him to sail an inordinate number of passes on simple hitches, curls and dig routes. While his lower body mechanics are impressive the vast majority of the time, Rudolph also skips 2-3 throws every game due to failing to follow through with his trail foot, thereby losing velocity on the ball. I wonder, when under more pressure than he faced at Oklahoma State, if that could become more a bad habit.
Rudolph is a solid athlete who navigates the pocket well and has flashed the ability to throw with excellent anticipation on out routes, although I thought he struggled to throw vertical routes with the same foresight. His arm is good, but not elite, and Rudolph must do a better job of understanding when to use touch and when to use zip on the ball. The senior’s interception numbers from last season (4) are also a little bit deceiving after the tape revealed several defensives gaffes helped him get lucky and avoid turnovers on a number of occasions. Rudolph makes some full-field progression reads and is generally composed in the pocket, which bodes well for his NFL future. However he needs a clean base to make throws, and although he serenely navigates the pocket well, he isn’t a quarterback that will be successful on the run or playing out of structure on a consistent basis.
Rudolph has the potential to improve this season, but given his experience and age, it may not be wise to bet on his accuracy making major strides. Because it is such a major issue to all areas of the field, Rudolph’s issues are much more individually based than prohibitive of a certain scheme. He also played much of 2016 with a cracked rib, and not knowing the details of that situation and how it affected his play does muddy his evaluation some. I think he has enough arm talent to fit best in a Coryell-type passing attack, but he must brush up a couple mechanical errors and improve his deep ball anticipation and accuracy in order to be NFL starting material.
Predicted Value Range: Mid-Late Day 2